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About BIIA

Our mission

The mission of the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals is to serve the public by resolving appeals in a consistent, impartial, timely, and efficient manner.

Our vision

We are committed to providing:

  • A respected, unbiased forum for the resolution of disputes.
  • A desirable place to work, supportive of our mission and consistent with our values.

Our values
  • Dedication to public service.
  • Honesty, integrity, loyalty, and fairness.
  • Respect for all persons.
  • Diversity and teamwork in the workplace.
  • Our employees' well-being and safety.
  • Professionalism in performance and demeanor.
  • The contribution of each employee.
  • Personal and professional growth.
  • Dedication to excellence and continued improvement.

The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) is a state agency that is independent from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The BIIA hears appeals from decisions made by L&I in several areas. The three principal types of appeals are:

  • Industrial insurance (workers' compensation)
  • Safety citations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA)
  • Employer Premium (tax assessments and classifications)

Board members

The BIIA is administered by three full-time Board members appointed by the Governor. The role of a Board member can be divided into two major parts.

  • First, the Board members issue the final decision in every dispute appealed to the agency.
  • Second, the Board members act as managers of the agency itself. This second role is somewhat unusual in that the three Board members act as a singular executive to administer the agency as an organization.

Each Board member serves an overlapping six-year term and is appointed by the Governor.

Mark Jaffe

Mark is a graduate of DePaul Law School in Chicago. He was a staff attorney at the Illinois ACLU and the director of a legal aid project before moving to Seattle to begin private practice. He joined the Board as a hearing judge in 1987 and has been a review and mediation judge and Assistant Chief in the Seattle office. He became Acting Chief Judge in March 2020 and is currently serving as Acting Board Chair.

Isabel A. M. Cole

Isabel A. M. Cole is the Labor Member of the Board. She was appointed by Governor Inslee in 2019. Prior to coming to the BIIA, she represented workers' compensation claimants at Tacoma Injury Law Group. She received her law degree in 2012 from Seattle University School of Law, which she attended while working full time as an Air Traffic Controller for the Federal Aviation Administration. During her 22 years as an Air Traffic Controller she held numerous offices in the controller union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), including the facility representative at Seattle Tower for three terms, and the workers' compensation representative for the Northwest Mountain Region for over a decade. Her term expires on June 17, 2025.

Jack S. Eng

Jack S. Eng is the Business Member of the Board. He was appointed by Governor Gregoire in 2011 and reappointed by Governor Inslee in 2018. Prior to coming to the Board he was a Senior Legal Counsel for Weyerhaeuser Co. and served as an Assistant Attorney General, where he represented numerous state boards and agencies, including the Department of Labor and Industries. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington and his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Santa Clara University School of Law. His term expires on June 17, 2023.

Interim Acting Chief Industrial Appeals Judge

Christopher Swanson

Christopher joined the BIIA as a hearings judge in 2011 and has worked as a review and mediation judge and as an Assistant Chief Judge in the Olympia office. Before joining the BIIA, he worked as a health law judge with the Washington State Department of Health and an assistant attorney general with the Office of the Attorney General. Chris graduated from Willamette University College of Law in 2000 and California State University, Chico in 1996.

Chief Legal Officer

Brian Watkins

Brian is the Board's Chief Legal Officer (advisor to the Board). Since 2008, Brian has served as a trial judge, review judge, mediator, and assistant chief judge. Before coming to the Board, he worked as a senior administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings. He graduated from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (now Texas A&M University School of Law) and the University of Texas at Arlington. Since 2016, Brian has served as administrative law faculty at the National Judicial College. He served for many years as a volunteer hearing officer for the Housing Authority of Thurston County, is a former board member of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges, formerly co-chaired the Pro Se Committee of the Washington State Access to Justice Board, and served as president of the Washington Administrative Law Judges Association.